With over 300 million users, LinkedIn is the largest professional network and third most popular social platform overall. Last year, LinkedIn announced that it was opening up its publishing platform, Pulse, to the public. This offered a new way to reach a massive audience and anyone could do it.Read More
When you’re trying to get a business off the ground, you can’t afford to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on marketing software each month. When the typical solution costs $800-$2000 per month, you need a way to be able to do everything that an all-in-one solution might offer at virtually no cost. Luckily, there are lots of great tools out there that are available for next to nothing and they offer some pretty fantastic features.Read More
As sales continue to migrate online, many small businesses are trying to figure out how to create a web presence. Businesses offering products or services might feel like a more natural fit to move into online sales. However, I think you’ll be surprised with the businesses who are finding online success. There is an audience waiting for your business, too.
You can’t get something for nothing. True. But these days, customers can often get something for half. Websites like Groupon and LivingSocial are deal-a-day sites that offer discounts on services from business within the markets they serve. The premise is that the coupon or deal of the day serves as a contract. If enough people buy the coupon, the service or product becomes available to all. For example, a restaurant would offer an $80 meal at $40. Once enough buyers grab the $40 coupon, the meal coupon is available. According to its website, as of October 2010, Groupon serves more than 150 markets in North America and 100 markets in Europe, Asia and South America and has amassed 35 million registered users. That’s a whole lotta coupons, and a whole lotta leads. Here are some positive points that small business owners have reported after using digital coupon marketing sites:
Gone are the days of the tri-fold marketing piece. Successful marketing collateral in today’s business climate is dependent on content marketing strategy. So, what is content marketing strategy? Content marketing is a term that describes marketing through multiple formats that, through the creation and sharing of content, engages current and potential consumers. The idea behind content marketing strategy is to deliver useful and valuable information to your customers to position yourself as an authority within your industry.
- Creative – The start of this marketing bonanza is to create content about your business and industry. Through articles and blog posts, well written for keyword optimization, report on your industry to your visitors. This creates a place for them to return to when needing questions answered. Create e-books to walk them through challenges and post to social media sites to deliver your creative solutions to a broader audience.
Finding the time to sort through all the options while remaining productive is a challenge. That’s why I’ve put together this list of the best small business software for productivity and marketing. There are so many great applications that I need to cover these in two posts. Today we’ll focus on productivity. In Part II, we’ll take a look at the best software for marketing.
The best small business software for maintaining easy and fast access to all of your notes is a toss up between Evernote and Onenote. These programs both let you gather notes of all kinds, importing images, annotating them and altering them any way you wish. It’s like having a journal with all your important notes pasted on each page where you have included your comments. These programs are better than a journal, though, because you can organize your notes, copy and paste items easily and even share your notes with others.
Evernote runs in the cloud making your information more accessible, but also more vulnerable. To get the fully featured software, you pay a yearly subscription of $45, which increases your upload limits from 40MB per month to 500MB per month. If you think you’ll be uploading more than this, you might prefer Onenote’s single one time cost of $79.99. You can share Onenote data by creating an html version of your files that others can read but not edit.
Many small businesses swear by this Web application. It offers a real-time back-up, free up to 2 GB, creating an easy way to share documents among employees. Plans are affordable for $10 - $20 per month with limits of up to 100GB storage.
To use Dropbox, you simply drag and drop files you want to back up and they are automatically synced online and to other computers that have Dropbox installed.
iGoogle offers just about everything you need for communications and administration of your business. This fully customizable homepage acts as a virtual desktop and lets you include Gadgets (sometimes called Google Apps) for quick access to many commonly used apps like:
- Calendars, including Outlook and Google calendars
- To-do Lists like Remember the Milk and Todoist
- All-in-one Email
- Various Analytics Apps
The virtual desktop can be configured any way you like, with drag and drop functions. Applications can display at all times, or be minimized to keep them out of the way until you need them. Most popular Web applications can be installed and accessed from iGoogle.
There are endless Google Apps to add to your iGoogle page. These applications work best when used with Google’s Chrome Web browser. Chrome offers additional functionality with many extensions to common Web tools, similar to the iGoogle Gadgets. When all your important Web tools are organized in one location with one-click access, productivity soars.
Check back for Part II of this article, or just subscribe to the blog for notification when it comes out.
For those of you eagerly awaiting part II, I apologize as enjoying the summer weather has cut into my blog writing. I hope you did not resort to reading all these books on your vacation.
Like most people, from time to time I have nagging doubts about decisions I made. On occasion fear or worry keeps me up at night . Lately it tends to be around my business but you don't have to run a business to identify.